sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Cruising Photo Gallery Video Gallery
Sail-World.com : Amundsen's North West Passage - not just a difficult sail
Amundsen's North West Passage - not just a difficult sail

'Gjoa crew after arrival in Nome - FRONT ROW Amundsen, Peder Ristvedt, Adolf Lindstroem, Helmer Hansen - BACK ROW Godfred Hansen, Anton Lund'    .

With the sea ice receding at a rapid rate more and more adventurous cruising sailors are heading for the North West Passage to take their chances. But at least they have GPS and Gore-tex.

First explorer Roald Amundsen's team did not only have to find a way without such technology or charts, they were sailing a 21 metre square-sterned, gaff-rigged sloop, which had once been a herring fishing boat.

They wore woolen clothes which were not water-proof and they were tough men. They were also pretty mean scientists. Science writer Ned Rozell explains.


Gjoa sailing -  .. .  
More than a century ago, Roald Amundsen and his crew were the first to sail through the Northwest Passage, along the way leaving footprints in the Alaska towns of Eagle, Nome, and Sitka. Pioneering that storied route was a dream of Amundsen’s since his boyhood in Norway, but he also performed enduring science on the three-year voyage of the Gjøa.

Amundsen, from Norway, was 30 years old when, in the early 1900s, he envisioned and then executed this plan: 'With a small vessel and a few companions, to penetrate into the regions around earth’s north magnetic pole, and by a series of accurate observations, extending over a period of two years, to relocate the pole observed by Sir James Ross in 1831.'

The north magnetic dip pole is the expression of Earth’s magnetic field where a compass needle points straight downward. Though Amundsen didn’t know it at the time, this point is a moving target, wandering miles each day due to electrical currents in the upper atmosphere associated with the aurora and the solar wind.

If the sea ice allowed him, Amundsen told a crowd assembled in London, he planned on continuing west from northern Canada 'to sail through the Northwest Passage in its entire extent, this being a problem which for centuries has defied the most persistent efforts.'

Though the conquest of the Northwest Passage brought Amundsen worldwide fame, his devotion to science was real. Instead of blasting through the passage, he and his crew halted the Gjøa to spend the winter in a bay off King William Island in the Canadian Arctic.

There, they set up a base called 'Gjøahaven,' or Gjøa Harbor. They killed 100 reindeer for winter meat to feed man and dog, met the local natives, exchanged their wool clothes for furs and watched the ice form on the ocean in early October 1903. They also built a magnetic observatory out of shipping crates. They held it together with nails containing no iron. They covered the hut with tundra to keep out the light, because photographic paper recorded their magnetic observations.

Inside the building were four instruments sensitive to variations of Earth’s magnetic field. A few oil lamps heated and lit the observatory, which was so snug that Amundsen and crewman Gustav Wiik probably both suffered heart-muscle damage from carbon monoxide poisoning during the 19 months they faithfully tended the instruments.

Gjoa today -  .. .  
But the adventurers’ scientific timing was good, as their station, located just 125 miles from the north magnetic dip pole recorded by Englishman John Ross 70 years earlier, captured with wriggling needles one of the largest magnetic storms in history on Halloween of 1903.

Wiik, who died on the journey before the rest of the crew reached Nome, was the man who spent most of the time in the hut with the magnetometers, checking on them day and night for more than a year and a half. And, says Charles Deehr, a space physicist and aurora forecaster at the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute, Wiik’s 360 magnetic measurements at Gjøahaven were top notch, despite 'almost impossible conditions.'

The data set is so good that Deehr, who posts forecasts of northern lights here at the Geophysical Institute, said the information is similar to data he gets today from satellites parked in the solar wind, a flow of the sun’s particles that excites the aurora into action.

Wiik and Amundsen’s measurements 'offer more than a glimpse of the character of the solar wind 50 years before it was known to exist,' Deehr said. And, 'Amundsen was the first to demonstrate, without doubt, that the north magnetic (pole) does not have a permanent location, but moves in a fairly regular manner.'

Ned Rozell is a science writer at the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.


by Ned Rozell/Sail-World Cruising

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=95770

8:49 PM Fri 6 Apr 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.

Click for further information on
Adventure Sailing

Related News Stories:

02 Apr 2012  'Wild Viking' Jarle Andhøy detained by Chilean Navy
01 Apr 2012  And the most southerly-sailing boat ever is...
31 Mar 2012  Oldest female solo circumnavigator to arrive Hobart after 55 days
26 Mar 2012  Sailing the Pacific to save the Dolphins
24 Mar 2012  Ukrainian yacht crew in Antarctic record - and more to come
04 Mar 2012  Oldest female solo circumnavigator off to the Southern Ocean again
27 Feb 2012  Youngest solo circumnavigator - school but no Netherlands
27 Feb 2012  Tearaway Norwegian sailor departs Antarctic with 'new questions'
15 Feb 2012  Stowaway or not? and 'Let him sink' statement outrages Norway
08 Feb 2012  World's largest solar craft heads through the pirate zone
MORE STORIES ...






News - USA and the World









International Moth Worlds: Rashley ahead as Aussies close in by Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com,


















International Moth Worlds - Mothballed on day 4 + Video by Mark Jardine / YachtsandYachting.com,




Gladwell's Line: A change of direction needed in the America's Cup *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz,
























Anna Tunnicliffe set to compete at the CrossFit Games by Anna Tunnicliffe, Pittsburgh, PA












U.S. Junior Women’s Singlehanded Championship - Sophia Reineke wins
BIC Techno 293 Worlds 2014 - Day 0 Opening
Fuerteventura World Cup - Slalom action highlights day 2
2014 Governor's Cup - Sam Gilmour of RFBYC victorious again
Farr 40 West Coast Champ - Skipper Alberto Rossi leads Enfant Terrible
Flying Dutchman World Championships - Magyars are the Masters
Final day shakes up standings at Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek
2014 -15 Volvo Ocean Race: Team Alvimedica pushing towards Southampton
NYYC Race Week - Saving the best for last
VX One North American Championship - Chris Alexander commands
2014 Cape Panwa Hotel Phuket Raceweek - Waiting game on Day 3
International Moth Worlds: Thunderstorms delay racing on Day 1
Fuerteventura World Cup - Impressive tricks on day 1
2014 Governor's Cup - Two former winners in the finals
America's Cup: Iain Murray explains reasons for Australian withdrawal *Feature
Wilson and Roble remain number one match racers in U.S.
2014 ISAF Youth Match Racing World Championship - Set to start
PWA Pozo World Cup - Moreno twins dominate home spot
ISAF Youth Worlds - Record breaking regatta in Tavira + Video
Melges 32 European Championship - Robertissima remains out front
Farr 40 West Coast Championship - Italians take one-point lead   
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 3 images by Carlo Borlenghi   
New York Yacht Club Race Week - Marstrom 32 fleet off to anxious start   
Melges 32 European Championship - Day 3 images by Max Ranchi   
CYC Race to Mackinac - Cruising fleet sets sail in 106th edition   
Team Alvimedica getting a touchup   
PWA Pozo World Cup - Plenty of drama on day 5   
ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship - Day 5 Videos   
NYYC Race Week - High performance classes put on shoreside show   
2014 Pacific Cup - 'Invisible Hand' the first boat to finish   
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - B.C.'s Eric Holden skippers wins   
America's Cup: Updates on Team Australia withdraw   
J/70 North American titles - Brian Keane moves to top of leaderboard   
2016-2017 America's Cup - Team Australia withdraws   
VX One North American Championship - Chris Alexander takes charge   
America's Cup: Team NZ disappointed, but on track after Australians go   
America's Cup: Hamilton Island decides not to proceed with Challenge.   
America's Cup: Challenger of Record withdraws from Regatta   
WWA Wakeboard National Championships head to Waco   
Farr 40 West Coast Championship - Day 2   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL WAS US
LocalAds   DE  ES  FR  IT